Thursday, August 30, 2007

American homophobia

In June, Republican Senator Larry Craig went to the bathroom at Minneapolis-St Paul airport. While there, he tapped his right foot several times - a move interpreted by the man in the next stall as "a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct". Unfortunately for Craig, that man was a police officer, and he was arrested, and ended up pleading guilty to a lesser charge "in the hope of making it go away". Now his fellow Republicans have stripped him of his committee leadership posts, and are calling on him to resign.

There's a rich irony here in that Craig was one of the more bigoted Senators in the Republican Party, which supports the traditional rejoinder that bigots feel they have something to hide. But at the same time its a deeply uncomfortable story. In the US, apparently, they feel a need to stake out bathrooms in case a guy discretely suggests that he might want to have sex with another guy (something which isn't actually illegal, I might add), and they feel that being caught making such a suggestion is fundamentally incompatible with holding political office. They also feel that people's sex lives are a perfectly legitimate subject for investigative journalism. It's like the 70's over there, for Cthulhu's sake!

Senator Craig is a hypocritical bigot. But if the US wasn't so homophobic, maybe he wouldn't need to be.